David Hume, the eighteenth-century Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, historian and economist is the latest figure to be vilified in the Cultural Turf Wars now playing themselves out in our universities. This time it’s Edinburgh, which is in the spotlight, according to Douglas Murray in an article for the Telegraph.
“David Hume’s work was crucial in moving our society out of the realm of superstition and into that of reason and rationalism. But in one fatal footnote to one fatal essay Hume said something that is certainly by modern standards racist.
I doubt any of his critics had ever read any of Hume’s works. Or at least, my strong suspicion is that they did not stumble upon this footnote during a routine read-through of Hume’s collected works. Outrage culture does not work like that.
But soon, searching for victims, the mob was after Hume, deemed him a racist and insisted his name be removed from the University of Edinburgh building. So it came to pass that the university authorities changed the building name to “40 George Square”. A name which is still far more poetic than the building in question."
However, there is good news to report:
“It turns out that in the wake of their auto-cancellation the University of Edinburgh saw a slump in donations. Indeed, the university lost almost £2 million, including 24 donations and 12 legacy donations that have either been “cancelled, amended or withdrawn” since the cancellation of Hume.”
Here, Douglas Murray lays out the core purpose of education and of History in particular:
“The point of institutions is not to judge the past and act as judge, jury and executioner over it. Nor is it to erase the past. The job of institutions is to preserve the past, educate the young about it and then pass that education along. In that process continuity is vital, so that a student today might realise that they could achieve even a portion of the heights of those who went before them. Judge a man on one footnote and “who should ‘scape whipping” (as Hamlet put it)?”
The full article can be read below with a link to the original here:
Article by Douglas Murray for the Telegraph - Edinburgh University is learning the hard wa
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